Keeping your dog or cat at a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to improve his or her life. Being at a higher than ideal weight can affect their mobility, organ function, and overall quality and length of life. Staying on top of their weight is not difficult if you start early and stick to it. This includes feeding the right food on the right schedule, avoiding table scraps or too many treats, and getting lots of daily exercises. As always, your veterinarian or a veterinary technician can guide you and help make the right decisions for your pet!

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When is a dog considered to be overweight?

A dog is overweight when its Body Condition Score (or BCS), is above 3 out of 5. You can find this out by visiting your veterinarian, or there are some easy ways to do this at home. When you place your hand on your dog’s rib cage and apply a small amount of pressure, you should be able to feel the ribs. If you can feel ribs without putting pressure, your dog may be underweight. If you have to apply heavy pressure to feel ribs, or cannot feel them at all, your dog is overweight. This rule does not work for some breeds that are naturally skinnier or heavier. You should also be able to see a narrowing at the waist when looking from above, and an abdominal tuck in front of the back legs, when viewed from the side. If these are not present, it is likely that your dog is overweight.

Are some breeds prone to obesity?

Any dog can be overweight, including purebreds, mixed breeds, breeds that are naturally skinny or heavier, and young or old dogs. However, some breeds, because of their tendency to overeat, or their tendency to be more inactive and have slower immune systems, are overweight more often. These breeds include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, Pugs, Beagles, Bulldogs, and Cocker Spaniels. There are two things to remember, however. Most dogs seen in veterinary clinics are some degree of overweight, and even dogs within these “at-risk” breeds can be a lovely, healthy weight!

Why should you have weight loss and management consultation at the clinic?

Nutrition and weight loss consultations with a veterinarian or veterinary technician are important steps in the life of your pet. As mentioned previously, most pets that we see are some degree of overweight, and being overweight can negatively affect your pet’s health and life in many ways. In this appointment, they will discuss your current feeding routines and diets and how we can take steps to improve their overall nutrition. You will also receive a plan of action to achieve weight loss goals if needed. These appointments are no charge with a technician or can be done at the same time as an appointment with a veterinarian.

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